Tik-Tok of Oz
L. Frank Baum
Part 3 out of 4
"Quox," replied Tubekins. "But I think I hear
"Is the young dragon invisible?" asked Ann,
who had never seen a live dragon and was a little
fearful of meeting one.
"No, indeed," replied the King of the Tube.
"You'll see him in a minute; but before you part
company I'm sure you'll wish he was invisible."
"Is he dangerous, then?" questioned Files.
"Not at all. But Quox tires me dreadfully," said
Tubekins, "and I prefer his room to his company.
At that instant a scraping sound was heard,
drawing nearer and nearer until from between
two big bushes appeared a huge dragon, who
approached the party, nodded his head and said:
Had Quox been at all bashful I am sure he would
have felt uncomfortable at the astonished stare of
every eye in the group--except Tubekins, of
course, who was not astonished because he had seen
Quox so often.
Betsy had thought a "young" dragon must be a
small dragon, yet here was one so enormous that
the girl decided he must be full grown, if not
overgrown. His body was a lovely sky-blue in color
and it was thickly set with glittering silver
scales, each one as big as a serving-tray. Around
his neck was a pink ribbon with a bow just under
his left ear, and below the ribbon appeared a
chain of pearls to which was attached a golden
locket about as large around as the end of a bass
drum. This locket was set with many large and
The head and face of Quox were not especially
ugly, when you consider that he was a dragon; but
his eyes were so large that it took him a long
time to wink and his teeth seemed very sharp and
terrible when they showed, which they did whenever
the beast smiled. Also his nostrils were quite
large and wide, and those who stood near him were
liable to smell brimstone--especially when he
breathed out fire, as it is the nature of dragons
to do. To the end of his long tail was attached a
big electric light.
Perhaps the most singular thing about the
dragon's appearance at this time was the fact that
he had a row of seats attached to his back, one
seat for each member of the party. These seats
were double, with curved backs, so that two
could sit in them, and there were twelve of these
double seats, all strapped firmly around the
dragon's thick body and placed one behind the
other, in a row that extended from his shoulders
nearly to his tail.
"Aha!" exclaimed Tubekins; "I see that Tititi-
Hoochoo has transformed Quox into a carryall."
"I'm glad of that," said Betsy. "I hope, Mr.
Dragon, you won't mind our riding on your back."
"Not a bit," replied Quox. "I'm in disgrace just
now, you know, and the only way to redeem my good
name is to obey the orders of the Jinjin. If he
makes me a beast of burden, it is only a part of
my punishment, and I must bear it like a dragon. I
don't blame you people at all, and I hope you'll
enjoy the ride. Hop on, please. All aboard for the
other side of the world!"
Silently they took their places. Hank sat in the
front seat with Betsy, so that he could rest his
front hoofs upon the dragon's head. Behind them
were Shaggy and Polychrome, then Files and the
Princess, and Queen Ann and Tik-Tok. The officers
rode in the rear seats. When all had mounted to
their places the dragon looked very like one of
those sightseeing wagons so common in big cities--
only he had legs instead of wheels.
"All ready?" asked Quox, and when they said they
were he crawled to the mouth of the Tube and put
his head in.
"Good-bye, and good luck to you!" called
Tubekins; but no one thought to reply, because
just then the dragon slid his great body into the
Tube and the journey to the other side of the
world had begun.
At first they went so fast that they could
scarcely catch their breaths, but presently Quox
slowed up and said with a sort of cackling laugh:
"My scales! but that is some tumble. I think I
shall take it easy and fall slower, or I'm likely to
get dizzy. Is it very far to the other side of the
"Haven't you ever been through this Tube
before?" inquired Shaggy.
"Never. Nor has anyone else in our country;
at least, not since I was born."
"How long ago was that?" asked Betsy.
"That I was born? Oh, not very long ago.
I'm only a mere child. If I had not been sent on
this journey, I would have celebrated my three
thousand and fifty-sixth birthday next Thursday.
Mother was going to make me a birthday cake
with three thousand and fifty-six candles on it;
but now, of course, there will be no celebration,
for I fear I shall not get home in time for it."
"Three thousand and fifty-six years!" cried
Betsy. "Why, I had no idea anything could live
"My respected Ancestor, whom I would call a
stupid old humbug if I had not reformed, is so old
that I am a mere baby compared with him," said
Quox. "He dates from the beginning of the world,
and insists on telling us stories of things that
happened fifty thousand years ago, which are of no
interest at all to youngsters like me. In fact,
Grandpa isn't up to date. He lives altogether in
the past, so I can't see any good reason for his
being alive to-day.... Are you people able to see
your way, or shall I turn on more light?"
"Oh, we can see very nicely, thank you; only
there's nothing to see but ourselves," answered
This was true. The dragon's big eyes were like
headlights on an automobile and illuminated the
Tube far ahead of them. Also he curled his tail
upward so that the electric light on the end of it
enabled them to see one another quite clearly. But
the Tube itself was only dark metal, smooth as
glass but exactly the same from one of its ends to
the other. Therefore there was no scenery of
interest to beguile the journey.
They were now falling so gently that the trip
was proving entirely comfortable, as the Jinjin
had promised it would be; but this meant a
longer journey and the only way they could
make time pass was to engage in conversation.
The dragon seemed a willing and persistent
talker and he was of so much interest to them
that they encouraged him to chatter. His voice
was a little gruff but not unpleasant when one
became used to it.
"My only fear," said he presently, "is that this
constant sliding over the surface of the Tube will
dull my claws. You see, this hole isn't straight
down, but on a steep slant, and so instead of
tumbling freely through the air I must skate along
the Tube. Fortunately, there is a file in my tool-
kit, and if my claws get dull they can be
"Why do you want sharp claws?" asked Betsy.
"They are my natural weapons, and you must not
forget that I have been sent to conquer Ruggedo."
"Oh, you needn't mind about that," remarked
Queen Ann, in her most haughty manner; "for when
we get to Ruggedo I and my invincible Army can
conquer him without your assistance."
"Very good," returned the dragon, cheerfully.
"That will save me a lot of bother--if you
succeed. But I think I shall file my claws, just
He gave a long sigh, as he said this, and a
sheet of flame, several feet in length, shot from
his mouth. Betsy shuddered and Hank said
"Hee-haw!" while some of the officers screamed
in terror. But the dragon did not notice that he
had done anything unusual.
"Is there fire inside of you?" asked Shaggy.
"Of course," answered Quox. "What sort of a
dragon would I be if my fire went out?"
"What keeps it going?" Betsy inquired.
"I've no idea. I only know it's there," said
Quox. "The fire keeps me alive and enables me
to move; also to think and speak."
"Ah! You are ver-y much like my-self," said
Tik-Tok. "The on-ly dif-fer-ence is that I move
by clock-work, while you move by fire."
"I don't see a particle of likeness between us,
I must confess," retorted Quox, gruffly. "You are
not a live thing; you're a dummy."
"But I can do things, you must ad-mit," said
"Yes, when you are wound up," sneered the
dragon. "But if you run down, you are helpless."
"What would happen to you, Quox, if you ran
out of gasoline?" inquired Shaggy, who did not
like this attack upon his friend.
"I don't use gasoline."
"Well, suppose you ran out of fire."
"What's the use of supposing that?" asked
Quox. "My great-great-great-grandfather has
lived since the world began, and he has never
once run out of fire to keep him going. But I
will confide to you that as he gets older he shows
more smoke and less fire. As for Tik-Tok, he's
well enough in his way, but he's merely copper.
And the Metal Monarch knows copper through
and through. I wouldn't be surprised if Ruggedo
melted Tik-Tok in one of his furnaces and made
copper pennies of him."
"In that case, I would still keep going,"
remarked Tik-Tok, calmly.
"Pennies do," said Betsy regretfully.
"This is all nonsense," said the Queen, with
irritation. "Tik-Tok is my great Army--all but the
officers--and I believe he will be able to conquer
Ruggedo with ease. What do you think, Polychrome?"
"You might let him try," answered the Rainbow's
Daughter, with her sweet ringing laugh, that
sounded like the tinkling of tiny bells. "And if
Tik-Tok fails, you have still the big fire-
breathing dragon to fall back on."
"Ah!" said the dragon, another sheet of flame
gushing from his mouth and nostrils; "it's a wise
little girl, this Polychrome. Anyone would know
she is a fairy."
The Long-Eared Hearer Learns by Listening
During this time Ruggedo, the Metal Monarch and
King of the Nomes, was trying to amuse himself in
his splendid jeweled cavern. It was hard work for
Ruggedo to find amusement to-day, for all the
nomes were behaving well and there was no one to
scold or to punish. The King had thrown his
sceptre at Kaliko six times, without hitting him
once. Not that Kaliko had done anything wrong. On
the contrary, he had obeyed the King in every way
but one: he would not stand still, when commanded
to do so, and let the heavy sceptre strike him.
We can hardly blame Kaliko for this, and even
the cruel Ruggedo forgave him; for he knew very
well that if he mashed his Royal Chamberlain he
could never find another so intelligent and
obedient. Kaliko could make the nomes work when
their King could not, for the nomes hated Ruggedo
and there were so many thousands of the quaint
little underground people that they could easily
have rebelled and defied the King had they dared
to do so. Sometimes, when Ruggedo abused them
worse than usual, they grew sullen and threw down
their hammers and picks. Then, however hard the
King scolded or whipped them, they would not work
until Kaliko came and begged them to. For Kaliko
was one of themselves and was as much abused by
the King as any nome in the vast series of
But to-day all the little people were working
industriously at their tasks and Ruggedo, having
nothing to do, was greatly bored. He sent for the
Long-Eared Hearer and asked him to listen
carefully and report what was going on in the big
"It seems," said the Hearer, after listening for
awhile, "that the women in America have clubs."
"Are there spikes in them?" asked Ruggedo,
"I cannot hear any spikes, Your Majesty," was
"Then their clubs are not as good as my
sceptre. What else do you hear?'
"There's a war.
"Bah! there's always a war. What else?"
For a time the Hearer was silent, bending
forward and spreading out his big ears to catch
the slightest sound. Then suddenly he said:
"Here is an interesting thing, Your Majesty.
These people are arguing as to who shall conquer
the Metal Monarch, seize his treasure and drive
him from his dominions."
"What people?" demanded Ruggedo, sitting
up straight in his throne.
"The ones you threw down the Hollow Tube."
"Where are they now?"
"In the same Tube, and coming back this way,"
said the Hearer.
Ruggedo got out of his throne and began to
pace up and down the cavern.
"I wonder what can be done to stop them,"
"Well," said the Hearer, "if you could turn
the Tube upside down, they would be falling
the other way, Your Majesty."
Ruggedo glared at him wickedly, for it was
impossible to turn the Tube upside down and
he believed the Hearer was slyly poking fun
at him. Presently he asked:
"How far away are those people now?"
"About nine thousand three hundred and six
miles, seventeen furlongs, eight feet and four
inches--as nearly as I can judge from the sound
of their voices," replied the Hearer.
"Aha! Then it will be some time before they
arrive," said Ruggedo, "and when they get here
I shall be ready to receive them."
He rushed to his gong and pounded upon it so
fiercely that Kaliko came bounding into the cavern
with one shoe off and one shoe on, for he was just
dressing himself after a swim in the hot bubbling
lake of the Underground Kingdom.
"Kaliko, those invaders whom we threw down
the Tube are coming back again!" he exclaimed.
"I thought they would," said the Royal
Chamberlain, pulling on the other shoe. "Tititi-
Hoochoo would not allow them to remain in his
kingdom, of course, and so I've been expecting
them back for some time. That was a very foolish
action of yours, Rug."
"What, to throw them down the Tube?"
"Yes. Tititi-Hoochoo has forbidden us to throw
even rubbish into the Tube."
"Pooh! what do I care for the Jinjin?" asked
Ruggedo scornfully. "He never leaves his own
kingdom, which is on the other side of the world."
"True; but he might send some one through
the Tube to punish you," suggested Kaliko.
"I'd like to see him do it! Who could conquer my
thousands of nomes?"
"Why, they've been conquered before, if I
remember aright," answered Kaliko with a grin.
"Once I saw you running from a little girl named
Dorothy, and her friends, as if you were really
"Well, I was afraid, that time," admitted the
Nome King, with a deep sigh, "for Dorothy had a
Yellow Hen that laid eggs!"
The King shuddered as he said "eggs," and Kaliko
also shuddered, and so did the Long-Eared Hearer;
for eggs are the only things that the nomes
greatly dread. The reason for this is that eggs
belong on the earth's surface, where birds and
fowl of all sorts live, and there is something
about a hen's egg, especially, that fills a nome
with horror. If by chance the inside of an egg
touches one of these underground people, he
withers up and blows away and that is the end of
him--unless he manages quickly to speak a magical
word which only a few of the nomes know. Therefore
Ruggedo and his followers had very good cause to
shudder at the mere mention of eggs.
"But Dorothy," said the King, "is not with this
band of invaders; nor is the Yellow Hen. As for
Tititi-Hoochoo, he has no means of knowing that we
are afraid of eggs."
"You mustn't be too sure of that," Kaliko warned
him. "Tititi-Hoochoo knows a great many things,
being a fairy, and his powers are far superior to
any we can boast."
Ruggedo shrugged impatiently and turned to the
"Listen," said he, "and tell me if you hear any
eggs coming through the Tube."
The Long-Eared one listened and then shook
his head. But Kaliko laughed at the King.
"No one can hear an egg, Your Majesty,"
said he. "The only way to discover the truth is to
look through the Magic Spyglass."
"That's it!" cried the King. "Why didn't I
think of it before? Look at once, Kaliko!"
So Kaliko went to the Spyglass and by uttering a
mumbled charm he caused the other end of it to
twist around, so that it pointed down the opening
of the Tube. Then he put his eye to the glass and
was able to gaze along all the turns and windings
of the Magic Spyglass and then deep into the Tube,
to where our friends were at that time falling.
"Dear me!" he exclaimed. "Here comes a dragon."
"A big one?" asked Ruggedo.
"A monster. He has an electric light on the end
of his tail, so I can see him very plainly. And
the other people are all riding upon his back."
"How about the eggs?" inquired the King.
Kaliko looked again.
"I can see no eggs at all," said he; "but I
imagine that the dragon is as dangerous as eggs.
Probably Tititi-Hoochoo has sent him here to
punish you for dropping those strangers into the
Forbidden Tube. I warned you not to do it, Your
This news made the Nome King anxious. For a few
minutes he paced up and down, stroking his long
beard and thinking with all his might. After this
he turned to Kaliko and said:
"All the harm a dragon can do is to scratch with
his claws and bite with his teeth."
"That is not all, but it's quite enough,"
returned Kaliko earnestly. "On the other hand, no
one can hurt a dragon, because he's the toughest
creature alive. One flop of his huge tail could
smash a hundred nomes to pancakes, and with teeth
and claws he could tear even you or me into small
bits, so that it would be almost impossible to put
us together again. Once, a few hundred years ago,
while wandering through some deserted caverns, I
came upon a small piece of a nome lying on the
rocky floor. I asked the piece of nome what had
happened to it. Fortunately the mouth was a part
of this piece--the mouth and the left eye--so it
was able to tell me that a fierce dragon was the
cause. It had attacked the poor nome and scattered
him in every direction, and as there was no friend
near to collect his pieces and put him together,
they had been separated for a great many years. So
you see, Your Majesty, it is not in good taste to
sneer at a dragon."
The King had listened attentively to Kaliko.
"It will only be necessary to chain this dragon
which Tititi-Hoochoo has sent here, in order to
prevent his reaching us with his claws and teeth."
"He also breathes flames," Kaliko reminded him.
"My nomes are not afraid of fire, nor am I,"
"Well, how about the Army of Oogaboo?"
"Sixteen cowardly officers and Tik-Tok! Why, I
could defeat them single-handed; but I won't try
to. I'll summon my army of nomes to drive the
invaders out of my territory, and if we catch any
of them I intend to stick needles into them until
they hop with pain."
"I hope you won't hurt any of the girls," said
"I'll hurt 'em all!" roared the angry Metal
Monarch. "And that braying Mule I'll make into
hoof-soup, and feed it to my nomes, that it may
add to their strength."
"Why not be good to the strangers and release
your prisoner, the Shaggy Man's brother?"
"It may save you a lot of annoyance. And you
don't want the Ugly One."
"I don't want him; that's true. But I won't
allow anybody to order me around. I'm King of the
Nomes and I'm the Metal Monarch, and I shall do as
I please and what I please and when I please!"
With this speech Ruggedo threw his sceptre at
Kaliko's head, aiming it so well that the Royal
Chamberlain had to fall flat upon the floor in
order to escape it. But the Hearer did not see the
sceptre coming and it swept past his head so
closely that it broke off the tip of one of his
long ears. He gave a dreadful yell that quite
startled Ruggedo, and the King was sorry for the
accident because those long ears of the Hearer
were really valuable to him.
So the Nome King forgot to be angry with Kaliko
and ordered his Chamberlain to summon General Guph
and the army of nomes and have them properly
armed. They were then to march to the mouth of the
Tube, where they could seize the travelers as soon
as they appeared.
The Dragon Defies Danger
Although the journey through the Tube was longer,
this time, than before, it was so much more
comfortable that none of our friends minded it at
all. They talked together most of the time and as
they found the dragon good-natured and fond of the
sound of his own voice they soon became well
acquainted with him and accepted him as a
"You see," said Shaggy, in his frank way, "Quox
is on our side, and therefore the dragon is a good
fellow. If he happened to be an enemy, instead of
a friend, I am sure I should dislike him very
much, for his breath smells of brimstone, he is
very conceited and he is so strong and fierce that
he would prove a dangerous foe."
"Yes, indeed," returned Quox, who had listened
to this speech with pleasure; "I suppose I am
about as terrible as any living thing. I am glad
you find me conceited, for that proves I know my
good qualities. As for my breath smelling of
brimstone, I really can't help it, and I once met
a man whose breath smelled of onions, which I
consider far worse."
"I don't," said Betsy; "I love onions.
"And I love brimstone," declared the dragon, "so
don't let us quarrel over one another's
Saying this, he breathed a long breath and shot
a flame fifty feet from his mouth. The brimstone
made Betsy cough, but she remembered about the
onions and said nothing.
They had no idea how far they had gone through
the center of the earth, nor when to expect the
trip to end. At one time the little girl remarked:
"I wonder when we'll reach the bottom of this
hole. And isn't it funny, Shaggy Man, that what is
the bottom to us now, was the top when we fell the
"What puzzles me," said Files, "is that we are
able to fall both ways."
"That," announced Tik-Tok, "is be-cause the world
"Exactly," responded Shaggy. "The machinery in
your head is in fine working order, Tik-Tok. You
know, Betsy, that there is such a thing as the
Attraction of Gravitation, which draws everything
toward the center of the earth. That is why we
fall out of bed, and why everything clings to the
surface of the earth."
"Then why doesn't everyone go on down to
the center of the earth?" inquired the little girl.
"I was afraid you were going to ask me that,"
replied Shaggy in a sad tone. "The reason, my
dear, is that the earth is so solid that other solid
things can't get through it. But when there's a
hole, as there is in this case, we drop right down
to the center of the world."
"Why don't we stop there?" asked Betsy.
"Because we go so fast that we acquire speed
enough to carry us right up to the other end."
"I don't understand that, and it makes my
head ache to try to figure it out," she said after
some thought. "One thing draws us to the center
and another thing pushes us away from it.
"Don't ask me why, please," interrupted the
Shaggy Man. "If you can't understand it, let it go
"Do you understand it?" she inquired.
"All the magic isn't in fairyland," he said
gravely. "There's lots of magic in all Nature,
and you may see it as well in the United States,
where you and I once lived, as you can here."
"I never did," she replied.
"Because you were so used to it all that you
didn't realize it was magic. Is anything more
wonderful than to see a flower grow and blossom,
or to get light out of the electricity in the air?
The cows that manufacture milk for us must have
machinery fully as remarkable as that in Tik-Tok's
copper body, and perhaps you've noticed that--"
And then, before Shaggy could finish his speech,
the strong light of day suddenly broke upon them,
grew brighter, and completely enveloped them. The
dragon's claws no longer scraped against the metal
Tube, for he shot into the open air a hundred feet
or more and sailed so far away from the slanting
hole that when he landed it was on the peak of a
mountain and just over the entrance to the many
underground caverns of the Nome King.
Some of the officers tumbled off their seats
when Quox struck the ground, but most of the
dragon's passengers only felt a slight jar. All
were glad to be on solid earth again and they at
once dismounted and began to look about them.
Queerly enough, as soon as they had left the
dragon, the seats that were strapped to the
monster's back disappeared, and this probably
happened because there was no further use for them
and because Quox looked far more dignified in just
his silver scales. Of course he still wore the
forty yards of ribbon around his neck, as well as
the great locket, but these only made him look
"dressed up," as Betsy remarked.
Now the army of nomes had gathered thickly
around the mouth of the Tube, in order to be ready
to capture the band of invaders as soon as they
popped out. There were, indeed, hundreds of nomes
assembled, and they were led by Guph, their most
famous General. But they did not expect the dragon
to fly so high, and he shot out of the Tube so
suddenly that it took them by surprise. When the
nomes had rubbed the astonishment out of their
eyes and regained their wits, they discovered the
dragon quietly seated on the mountainside far
above their heads, while the other strangers were
standing in a group and calmly looking down upon
General Guph was very angry at the escape, which
was no one's fault but his own.
"Come down here and be captured!" he shouted,
waving his sword at them.
"Come up here and capture us--if you dare!"
replied Queen Ann, who was winding up the
clockwork of her Private Soldier, so he could
fight more briskly.
Guph's first answer was a roar of rage at the
defiance; then he turned and issued a command to
his nomes. These were all armed with sharp spears
and with one accord they raised these spears and
threw them straight at their foes, so that they
rushed through the air in a perfect cloud of
Some damage might have been done had not the
dragon quickly crawled before the others, his body
being so big that it shielded every one of them,
including Hank. The spears rattled against the
silver scales of Quox and then fell harmlessly to
the ground. They were magic spears, of course, and
all straightway bounded back into the hands of
those who had thrown them, but even Guph could see
that it was useless to repeat the attack.
It was now Queen Ann's turn to attack, so the
Generals yelled "For--ward march!" and the
Colonels and Majors and Captains repeated the
command and the valiant Army of Oogaboo,
which seemed to be composed mainly of Tik-
Tok, marched forward in single column toward
the nomes, while Betsy and Polychrome cheered
and Hank gave a loud "Hee-haw!" and Shaggy
shouted "Hooray!" and Queen Ann screamed:
"At 'em, Tik-Tok--at 'em!"
The nomes did not await the Clockwork Man's
attack but in a twinkling disappeared into the
underground caverns. They made a great mistake in
being so hasty, for Tik-Tok had not taken a dozen
steps before he stubbed his copper toe on a rock
and fell flat to the ground, where he cried: "Pick
me up! Pick me up! Pick me up!" until Shaggy and
Files ran forward and raised him to his feet
The dragon chuckled softly to himself as he
scratched his left ear with his hind claw, but no
one was paying much attention to Quox just then.
It was evident to Ann and her officers that
there could be no fighting unless the enemy was
present, and in order to find the enemy they must
boldly enter the underground Kingdom of the nomes.
So bold a step demanded a council of war.
"Don't you think I'd better drop in on Ruggedo
and obey the orders of the Jinjin?" asked Quox.
"By no means!" returned Queen Ann. "We have
already put the army of nomes to flight and all
that yet remains is to force our way into those
caverns, and conquer the Nome King and all his
"That seems to me something of a job," said
the dragon, closing his eyes sleepily. "But go
ahead, if you like, and I'll wait here for you.
Don't be in any hurry on my account. To one
who lives thousands of years the delay of a few
days means nothing at all, and I shall probably
sleep until the time comes for me to act."
Ann was provoked at this speech.
"You may as well go back to Tititi-Hoochoo now,"
she said, "for the Nome King is as good as
But Quox shook his head. "No," said he; "I'll wait."
The Naughty Nome
Shaggy Man had said nothing during the
conversation between Queen Ann and Quox, for the
simple reason that he did not consider the matter
worth an argument. Safe within his pocket reposed
the Love Magnet, which had never failed to win
every heart. The nomes, he knew, were not like the
heartless Roses and therefore could be won to his
side as soon as he exhibited the magic talisman.
Shaggy's chief anxiety had been to reach
Ruggedo's Kingdom and now that the entrance lay
before him he was confident he would be able to
rescue his lost brother. Let Ann and the dragon
quarrel as to who should conquer the nomes, if
they liked; Shaggy would let them try, and if they
failed he had the means of conquest in his own
But Ann was positive she could not fail, for she
thought her Army could do anything. So she called
the officers together and told them how to act,
and she also instructed Tik-Tok what to do and
what to say.
"Please do not shoot your gun except as a last
resort," she added, "for I do not wish to be cruel
or to shed any blood--unless it is absolutely
"All right," replied Tik-Tok; "but I do not
think Rug-ge-do would bleed if I filled him full
of holes and put him in a ci-der press."
Then the officers fell in line, the four
Generals abreast and then the four Colonels and
the four Majors and the four Captains. They drew
their glittering swords and commanded Tik-Tok to
march, which he did. Twice he fell down, being
tripped by the rough rocks, but when he struck the
smooth path he got along better. Into the gloomy
mouth of the cavern entrance he stepped without
hesitation, and after him proudly pranced the
officers and Queen Ann. The others held back a
little, waiting to see what would happen.
Of course the Nome King knew they were coming
and was prepared to receive them. Just within the
rocky passage that led to the jeweled throne-room
was a deep pit, which was usually covered. Ruggedo
had ordered the cover removed and it now stood
open, scarcely visible in the gloom.
The pit was so large around that it nearly
filled the passage and there was barely room for
one to walk around it by pressing close to the
rock walls. This Tik-Tok did, for his copper eyes
saw the pit clearly and he avoided it; but the
officers marched straight into the hole and
tumbled in a heap on the bottom. An instant later
Queen Ann also walked into the pit, for she had
her chin in the air and was careless where she
placed her feet. Then one of the nomes pulled a
lever which replaced the cover on the pit and made
the officers of Oogaboo and their Queen fast
As for Tik-Tok, he kept straight on to the
cavern where Ruggedo sat in his throne and there
he faced the Nome King and said:
"I here-by con-quer you in the name of Queen Ann
So-forth of Oo-ga-boo, whose Ar-my I am, and I
de-clare that you are her pris-on-er!"
Ruggedo laughed at him.
"Where is this famous Queen?" he asked.
"She'll be here in a min-ute," said Tik-Tok.
"Per-haps she stopped to tie her shoe-string."
"Now, see here, Tik-Tok," began the Nome King,
in a stern voice, "I've had enough of this
nonsense. Your Queen and her officers are all
prisoners, having fallen into my power, so perhaps
you'll tell me what you mean to do."
"My or-ders were to con-quer you," replied Tik-
Tok, "and my ma-chin-er-y has done the best it
knows how to car-ry out those or-ders."
Ruggedo pounded on his gong and Kaliko appeared,
followed closely by General Guph.
"Take this copper man into the shops and set him
to work hammering gold," commanded the King.
"Being run by machinery he ought to be a steady
worker. He ought never to have been made, but
since he exists I shall hereafter put him to good
"If you try to cap-ture me," said Tik-Tok, "I
"Don't do that!" exclaimed General Guph,
earnestly, "for it will be useless to resist and
you might hurt some one."
But Tik-Tok raised his gun and took aim and not
knowing what damage the gun might do the nomes
were afraid to face it.
While he was thus defying the Nome King and his
high officials, Betsy Bobbin rode calmly into the
royal cavern, seated upon the back of Hank the
mule. The little girl had grown tired of waiting
for "something to happen" and so had come to see
if Ruggedo had been conquered.
"Nails and nuggets!" roared the King; "how
dare you bring that beast here and enter my
"There wasn't anybody to announce me," replied
Betsy. "I guess your folks were all busy. Are you
"No!" shouted the King, almost beside himself
"Then please give me something to eat, for I'm
awful hungry," said the girl. "You see, this
conquering business is a good deal like waiting
for a circus parade; it takes a long time to get
around and don't amount to much anyhow."
The nomes were so much astonished at this speech
that for a time they could only glare at her
silently, not finding words to reply. The King
finally recovered the use of his tongue and said:
"Earth-crawler! this insolence to my majesty
shall be your death-warrant. You are an ordinary
mortal, and to stop a mortal from living is so
easy a thing to do that I will not keep you
waiting half so long as you did for my conquest."
"I'd rather you wouldn't stop me from living,"
remarked Betsy, getting off Hank's back and
standing beside him. "And it would be a pretty
cheap King who killed a visitor while she was
hungry. If you'll give me something to eat, I'll
talk this killing business over with you
afterward; only, I warn you now that I don't
approve of it, and never will."
Her coolness and lack of fear impressed the Nome
King, although he bore an intense hatred toward
"What do you wish to eat?" he asked gruffly.
"Oh, a ham-sandwich would do, or perhaps a
couple of hard-boiled eggs--"
"Eggs!" shrieked the three nomes who were
present, shuddering till their teeth chattered.
"What's the matter?" asked Betsy wonderingly.
"Are eggs as high here as they are at home?"
"Guph," said the King in an agitated voice,
turning to his General, "let us destroy this rash
mortal at once! Seize her and take her to the
Slimy Cave and lock her in."
Guph glanced at Tik-Tok, whose gun was still
pointed, but just then Kaliko stole softly behind
the copper man and kicked his knee-joints so that
they suddenly bent forward and tumbled Tik-Tok to
the floor, his gun falling from his grasp.
Then Guph, seeing Tik-Tok helpless, made a grab
at Betsy. At the same time Hank's heels shot out
and caught the General just where his belt was
buckled. He rose into the air swift as a cannon-
ball, struck the Nome King fairly and flattened
his Majesty against the wall of rock on the
opposite side of the cavern. Together they fell to
the floor in a dazed and crumpled condition,
seeing which Kaliko whispered to Betsy:
"Come with me--quick!--and I will save you."
She looked into Kaliko's face inquiringly and
thought he seemed honest and good-natured, so
she decided to follow him. He led her and the
mule through several passages and into a small
cavern very nicely and comfortably furnished.
"This is my own room," said he, "but you are
quite welcome to use it. Wait here a minute and
I'll get you something to eat."
When Kaliko returned he brought a tray
containing some broiled mushrooms, a loaf of
mineral bread and some petroleum-butter. The
butter Betsy could not eat, but the bread was good
and the mushrooms delicious.
"Here's the door key," said Kaliko, "and you'd
better lock yourself in."
"Won't you let Polychrome and the Rose Princess
come here, too?" she asked.
"I'll see. Where are they?"
"I don't know. I left them outside," said Betsy.
"Well, if you hear three raps on the door, open
it," said Kaliko; "but don't let anyone in unless
they give the three raps."
"All right," promised Betsy, and when Kaliko
left the cosy cavern she closed and locked the
In the meantime Ann and her officers, finding
themselves prisoners in the pit, had shouted and
screamed until they were tired out, but no one had
come to their assistance. It was very dark and
damp in the pit and they could not climb out
because the walls were higher than their heads and
the cover was on. The Queen was first angry and
then annoyed and then discouraged; but the
officers were only afraid. Every one of the poor
fellows heartily wished he was back in Oogaboo
caring for his orchard, and some were so unhappy
that they began to reproach Ann for causing them
all this trouble and danger.
Finally the Queen sat down on the bottom of the
pit and leaned her back against the wall. By good
luck her sharp elbow touched a secret spring in
the wall and a big flat rock swung inward. Ann
fell over backward, but the next instant she
jumped up and cried to the others:
"A passage! A passage! Follow me, my brave men,
and we may yet escape."
Then she began to crawl through the passage,
which was as dark and dank as the pit, and the
officers followed her in single file. They
crawled, and they crawled, and they kept on
crawling, for the passage was not big enough to
allow them to stand upright. It turned this way
and twisted that, sometimes like a corkscrew and
sometimes zigzag, but seldom ran for long in a
"It will never end--never!" moaned the officers,
who were rubbing all the skin off their knees on
the rough rocks.
"It must end," retorted Ann courageously, "or
it never would have been made. We don't know
where it will lead us to, but any place is better
than that loathsome pit."
So she crawled on, and the officers crawled on,
and while they were crawling through this awful
underground passage Polychrome and Shaggy and
Files and the Rose Princess, who were standing
outside the entrance to Ruggedo's domains, were
wondering what had become of them.
A Tragic Transformation
"Don't let us worry," said Shaggy to his
companions, "for it may take the Queen some time
to conquer the Metal Monarch, as Tik-Tok has to do
everything in his slow, mechanical way."
"Do you suppose they are likely to fail?" asked
the Rose Princess.
"I do, indeed," replied Shaggy. "This Nome King
is really a powerful fellow and has a legion of
nomes to assist him, whereas our bold Queen
commands a Clockwork Man and a band of faint-
"She ought to have let Quox do the conquering,"
said Polychrome, dancing lightly upon a point of
rock and fluttering her beautiful draperies. "But
perhaps the dragon was wise to let her go first,
for when she fails to conquer Ruggedo she may
become more modest in her ambitions."
"Where is the dragon now?" inquired Ozga.
"Up there on the rocks," replied Files. "Look,
my dear; you may see him from here. He said he
would take a little nap while we were mixing up
with Ruggedo, and he added that after we had
gotten into trouble he would wake up and conquer
the Nome King in a jiffy, as his master the Jinjin
has ordered him to do."
"Quox means well," said Shaggy, "but I do not
think we shall need his services; for just as soon
as I am satisfied that Queen Ann and her army have
failed to conquer Ruggedo, I shall enter the
caverns and show the King my Love Magnet. That he
cannot resist; therefore the conquest will be made
This speech of Shaggy Man's was overheard by the
Long-Eared Hearer, who was at that moment standing
by Ruggedo's side. For when the King and Guph had
recovered from Hank's kick and had picked
themselves up, their first act was to turn Tik-Tok
on his back and put a heavy diamond on top of him,
so that he could not get up again. Then they
carefully put his gun in a corner of the cavern
and the King sent Guph to fetch the Long-Eared
The Hearer was still angry at Ruggedo for
breaking his ear, but he acknowledged the Nome
King to be his master and was ready to obey his
commands. Therefore he repeated Shaggy's speech to
the King, who at once realized that his Kingdom
was in grave danger. For Ruggedo knew of the Love
Magnet and its powers and was horrified at the
thought that Shaggy might show him the magic
talisman and turn all the hatred in his heart into
love. Ruggedo was proud of his hatred and abhorred
love of any sort.
"Really," said he, "I'd rather he conquered and
lose my wealth and my Kingdom than gaze at that
awful Love Magnet. What can I do to prevent the
Shaggy Man from taking it out of his pocket?"
Kaliko returned to the cavern in time to
overhear this question, and being a loyal nome and
eager to serve his King, he answered by saying:
"If we can manage to bind the Shaggy Man's arms,
tight to his body, he could not get the Love
Magnet out of his pocket."
"True!" cried the King in delight at this easy
solution of the problem. "Get at once a dozen
nomes, with ropes, and place them in the passage
where they can seize and bind Shaggy as soon as he
This Kaliko did, and meanwhile the watchers
outside the entrance were growing more and more
uneasy about their friends.
"I don't worry so much about the Oogaboo
people," said Polychrome, who had grown sober with
waiting, and perhaps a little nervous, "for they
could not be killed, even though Ruggedo might
cause them much suffering and perhaps destroy them
utterly. But we should not have allowed Betsy and
Hank to go alone into the caverns. The little girl
is mortal and possesses no magic powers whatever,
so if Ruggedo captures her she will be wholly at
"That is indeed true," replied Shaggy. "I
wouldn't like to have anything happen to dear
little Betsy, so I believe I'll go in right away
and put an end to all this worry."
"We may as well go with you," asserted Files,
"for by means of the Love Magnet, you can soon
bring the Nome King to reason."
So it was decided to wait no longer. Shaggy
walked through the entrance first, and after him
came the others. They had no thought of danger to
themselves, and Shaggy, who was going along with
his hands thrust into his pockets, was much
surprised when a rope shot out from the darkness
and twined around his body, pinning down his arms
so securely that he could not even withdraw his
hands from the pockets. Then appeared several
grinning nomes, who speedily tied knots in the
ropes and then led the prisoner along the passage
to the cavern. No attention was paid to the
others, but Files and the Princess followed on
after Shaggy, determined not to desert their
friend and hoping that an opportunity might arise
to rescue him.
As for Polychrome, as soon as she saw that
trouble had overtaken Shaggy she turned and ran
lightly back through the passage and out of the
entrance. Then she easily leaped from rock to rock
until she paused beside the great dragon, who lay
"Wake up, Quox!" she cried. "It is time for you
But Quox did not wake up. He lay as one in a
trance, absolutely motionless, with his enormous
eyes tight closed. The eyelids had big silver
scales on them, like all the rest of his body.
Polychrome might have thought Quox was dead had
she not known that dragons do not die easily or
had she not observed his huge body swelling as he
breathed. She picked up a piece of rock and
pounded against his eyelids with it, saying:
"Wake up, Quox--wake up!" But he would not waken.
"Dear me, how unfortunate!" sighed the
lovely Rainbow's Daughter. "I wonder what is
the best and surest way to waken a dragon. All
our friends may be captured and destroyed
while this great beast lies asleep."
She walked around Quox two or three times,
trying to discover some tender place on his body
where a thump or a punch might he felt; but he lay
extended along the rocks with his chin flat upon
the ground and his legs drawn underneath his body,
and all that one could see was his thick sky-blue
skin--thicker than that of a rhinoceros--and his
Then, despairing at last of wakening the beast,
and worried over the fate of her friends,
Polychrome again ran down to the entrance and
hurried along the passage into the Nome King's
Here she found Ruggedo lolling in his throne and
smoking a long pipe. Beside him stood General Guph
and Kaliko, and ranged before the King were the
Rose Princess, Files and the Shaggy Man. Tik-Tok
still lay upon the floor, weighted down by the big
Ruggedo was now in a more contented frame of
mind. One by one he had met the invaders and
easily captured them. The dreaded Love Magnet was
indeed in Shaggy's pocket, only a few feet away
from the King, but Shaggy was powerless to show it
and unless Ruggedo's eyes beheld the talisman it
could not affect him. As for Betsy Bobbin and her
mule, he believed Kaliko had placed them in the
Slimy Cave, while Ann and her officers he thought
safely imprisoned in the pit. Ruggedo had no fear
of Files or Ozga, but to be on the safe side he
had ordered golden handcuffs placed upon their
wrists. These did not cause them any great
annoyance but prevented them from making an
attack, had they been inclined to do so.
The Nome King, thinking himself wholly master of
the situation, was laughing and jeering at his
prisoners when Polychrome, exquisitely beautiful
and dancing like a ray of light, entered the
"Oho!" cried the King; "a Rainbow under ground,
eh?" and then he stared hard at Polychrome, and
still harder, and then he sat up and pulled the
wrinkles out of his robe and arranged his
whiskers. "On my word," said he, "you are a very
captivating creature; moreover, I perceive you
are a fairy."
"I am Polychrome, the Rainbow's Daughter," she
"Well," replied Ruggedo, "I like you. The others
I hate. I hate everybody--but you! Wouldn't you
like to live always in this beautiful cavern,
Polychrome? See! the jewels that stud the walls
have every tint and color of your Rainbow--and
they are not so elusive. I'll have fresh dewdrops
gathered for your feasting every day and you shall
be Queen of all my nomes and pull Kaliko's nose
whenever you like."
"No, thank you," laughed Polychrome. "My home is
in the sky, and I'm only on a visit to this solid,
sordid earth. But tell me, Ruggedo, why my friends
have been wound with cords and bound with chains?"
"They threatened me," answered Ruggedo. "The
fools did not know how powerful I am."
"Then, since they are now helpless, why not
release them and send them back to the earth's
"Because I hate 'em and mean to make 'em suffer
for their invasion. But I'll make a bargain with
you, sweet Polly. Remain here and live with me and
I'll set all these people free. You shall be my
daughter or my wife or my aunt or grandmother--
whichever you like--only stay here to brighten my
gloomy kingdom and make me happy!"
Polychrome looked at him wonderingly. Then she
turned to Shaggy and asked:
"Are you sure he hasn't seen the Love Magnet?"
"I'm positive," answered Shaggy. "But you seem
to be something of a Love Magnet yourself,
She laughed again and said to Ruggedo: "Not even
to rescue my friends would I live in your kingdom.
Nor could I endure for long the society of such a
wicked monster as you."
"You forget," retorted the King, scowling
darkly, "that you also are in my power."
"Not so, Ruggedo. The Rainbow's Daughter is
beyond the reach of your spite or malice."
"Seize her!" suddenly shouted the King, and
General Guph sprang forward to obey. Polychrome
stood quite still, yet when Guph attempted to
clutch her his hands met in air, and now the
Rainbow's Daughter was in another part of the
room, as smiling and composed as before.
Several times Guph endeavored to capture her and
Ruggedo even came down from his throne to assist
his General; but never could they lay hands upon
the lovely sky fairy, who flitted here and there
with the swiftness of light and constantly defied
them with her merry laughter as she evaded their
So after a time they abandoned the chase and
Ruggedo returned to his throne and wiped the
perspiration from his face with a finely-woven
handkerchief of cloth-of-gold.
"Well," said Polychrome, "what do you intend to
"I'm going to have some fun, to repay me for all
my bother," replied the Nome King. Then he said to
Kaliko: "Summon the executioners."
Kaliko at once withdrew and presently returned
with a score of nomes, all of whom were nearly as
evil looking as their hated master. They bore
great golden pincers, and prods of silver, and
clamps and chains and various wicked-looking
instruments, all made of precious metals and set
with diamonds and rubies.
"Now, Pang," said Ruggedo, addressing the leader
of the executioners, "fetch the Army of Oogaboo
and their Queen from the pit and torture them here
in my presence--as well as in the presence of
their friends. It will be great sport."
"I hear Your Majesty, and I obey Your Majesty,"
answered Pang, and went with his nomes into the
passage. In a few minutes he returned and bowed to
"They're all gone," said he.
"Gone!" exclaimed the Nome King. "Gone where?"
"They left no address, Your Majesty; but they
are not in the pit."
"Picks and puddles!" roared the King; "who took
the cover off?"
"No one," said Pang. "The cover was there, but
the prisoners were not under it."
"In that case," snarled the King, trying to
control his disappointment, "go to the Slimy Cave
and fetch hither the girl and the donkey. And
while we are torturing them Kaliko must take a
hundred nomes and search for the escaped
prisoners--the Queen of Oogaboo and her officers.
If he does not find them, I will torture Kaliko."
Kaliko went away looking sad and disturbed, for
he knew the King was cruel and unjust enough to
carry out this threat. Pang and the executioners
also went away, in another direction, but when
they came back Betsy Bobbin was not with them, nor
"There is no one in the Slimy Cave, Your
Majesty," reported Pang.
"Jumping jellycakes!" screamed the King.
"Another escape? Are you sure you found the right
"There is but one Slimy Cave, and there is no
one in it," returned Pang positively.
Ruggedo was beginning to be alarmed as well as
angry. However, these disappointments but made him
the more vindictive and he cast an evil look at
the other prisoners and said:
"Never mind the girl and the donkey. Here are
four, at least, who cannot escape my vengeance.
Let me see; I believe I'll change my mind about
Tik-Tok. Have the gold crucible heated to a white,
seething heat, and then we'll dump the copper man
into it and melt him up."
"But, Your Majesty," protested Kaliko, who had
returned to the room after sending a hundred nomes
to search for the Oogaboo people, "you must
remember that Tik-Tok is a very curious and
interesting machine. It would be a shame to
deprive the world of such a clever contrivance."
"Say another word, and you'll go into the
furnace with him!" roared the King. "I'm getting
tired of you, Kaliko, and the first thing you know
I'll turn you into a potato and make Saratoga-
chips of you! The next to consider," he added more
mildly, "is the Shaggy Man. As he owns the Love
Magnet, I think I'll transform him into a dove,
and then we can practice shooting at him with Tik-
Tok's gun. Now, this is a very interesting
ceremony and I beg you all to watch me closely and
see that I've nothing up my sleeve."
He came out of his throne to stand before the
Shaggy Man, and then he waved his hands, palms
downward, in seven semicircles over his victim's
head, saying in a low but clear tone of voice the
"Adi, edi, idi, odi, udi, oo-i-oo!
Idu, ido, idi, ide, ida, woo!"
The effect of this well-known sorcery was
instantaneous. Instead of the Shaggy Man, a pretty
dove lay fluttering upon the floor, its wings
confined by tiny cords wound around them. Ruggedo
gave an order to Pang, who cut the cords with a
pair of scissors. Being freed, the dove quickly
flew upward and alighted on the shoulder of the
Rose Princess, who stroked it tenderly.
"Very good! Very good!" cried Ruggedo, rubbing
his hands gleefully together. "One enemy is out of
my way, and now for the others."
(Perhaps my readers should be warned not to
attempt the above transformation; for, although
the exact magical formula has been described, it
is unlawful in all civilized countries for anyone
to transform a person into a dove by muttering the
words Ruggedo used. There were no laws to prevent
the Nome King from performing this transformation,
but if it should be attempted in any other
country, and the magic worked, the magician would
be severely punished.)
When Polychrome saw Shaggy Man transformed into
a dove and realized that Ruggedo was about do
something as dreadful to the Princess and Files,
and that Tik-Tok would soon be melted in a
crucible, she turned and ran from the cavern,
through the passage and back to the place where
Quox lay asleep.
A Clever Conquest
The great dragon still had his eyes closed and was
even snoring in a manner that resembled distant
thunder; but Polychrome was now desperate, because
any further delay meant the destruction of her
friends. She seized the pearl necklace, to which
was attached the great locket, and jerked it with
all her strength.
The result was encouraging. Quox stopped
snoring and his eyelids flickered. So Polychrome
jerked again--and again--till slowly the great
lids raised and the dragon looked at her steadily.
Said he, in a sleepy tone:
"What's the matter, little Rainbow?"
"Come quick!" exclaimed Polychrome. "Ruggedo has
captured all our friends and is about to destroy
"Well, well," said Quox, "I suspected that would
happen. Step a little out of my path, my dear, and
I'll make a rush for the Nome King's cavern."
She fell back a few steps and Quox raised
himself on his stout legs, whisked his long tail
and in an instant had slid down the rocks and made
a dive through the entrance.
Along the passage he swept, nearly filling it
with his immense body, and now he poked his head
into the jeweled cavern of Ruggedo.
But the King had long since made arrangements to
capture the dragon, whenever he might appear. No
sooner did Quox stick his head into the room than
a thick chain fell from above and encircled his
neck. Then the ends of the chain were drawn tight--
for in an adjoining cavern a thousand nomes were
pulling on them--and so the dragon could advance
no further toward the King. He could not use his
teeth or his claws and as his body was still in
the passage he had not even room to strike his
foes with his terrible tail.
Ruggedo was delighted with the success of his
stratagem. He had just transformed the Rose
Princess into a fiddle and was about to transform
Files into a fiddle bow, when the dragon appeared
to interrupt him. So he called out:
"Welcome, my dear Quox, to my royal
entertainment. Since you are here, you shall
witness some very neat magic, and after I have
finished with Files and Tik-Tok I mean to
transform you into a tiny lizard--one of the
chameleon sort--and you shall live in my cavern
and amuse me."
"Pardon me for contradicting Your Majesty,"
returned Quox in a quiet voice, "but I don't
believe you'll perform any more magic."
"Eh? Why not?" asked the King in surprise.
"There's a reason," said Quox. "Do you see this
ribbon around my neck?"
"Yes; and I'm astonished that a dignified dragon
should wear such a silly thing."
"Do you see it plainly?" persisted the dragon,
with a little chuckle of amusement.
"I do," declared Ruggedo.
"Then you no longer possess any magical powers,
and are as helpless as a clam," asserted Quox. "My
great master, Tititi-Hoochoo, the Jinjin,
enchanted this ribbon in such a way that whenever
Your Majesty looked upon it all knowledge of magic
would desert you instantly, nor will any magical
formula you can remember ever perform your
"Pooh! I don't believe a word of it!" cried
Ruggedo, half frightened, nevertheless. Then he
turned toward Files and tried to transform him
into a fiddle bow. But he could not remember the
right words or the right pass of the hands and
after several trials he finally gave up the
By this time the Nome King was so alarmed that
he was secretly shaking in his shoes.
"I told you not to anger Tititi-Hoochoo,"
grumbled Kaliko, "and now you see the result of
Ruggedo promptly threw his sceptre at his Royal
Chamberlain, who dodged it with his usual
cleverness, and then he said with an attempt to
"Never mind; I don't need magic to enable me to
destroy these invaders; fire and the sword will do
the business and I am still King of the Nomes and
lord and master of my Underground Kingdom!"
"Again I beg to differ with Your Majesty," said
Quox. "The Great Jinjin commands you to depart
instantly from this Kingdom and seek the earth's
surface, where you will wander for all time to
come, without a home or country, without a friend
or follower, and without any more riches than you
can carry with you in your pockets. The Great
Jinjin is so generous that he will allow you to
fill your pockets with jewels or gold, but you
must take nothing more."
Ruggedo now stared at the dragon in amazement.
"Does Tititi-Hoochoo condemn me to such a fate?"
he asked in a hoarse voice.
"He does," said Quox.
"And just for throwing a few strangers down the
"Just for that," repeated Quox in a stern, gruff
"Well, I won't do it. And your crazy old Jinjin
can't make me do it, either!" declared Ruggedo. "I
intend to remain here, King of the Nomes, until
the end of the world, and I defy your Tititi-
Hoochoo and all his fairies--as well as his clumsy
messenger, whom I have been obliged to chain up!"
The dragon smiled again, but it was not the sort
of smile that made Ruggedo feel very happy.
Instead, there was something so cold and merciless
in the dragon's expression that the condemned Nome
King trembled and was sick at heart.
There was little comfort for Ruggedo in the fact
that the dragon was now chained, although he had
boasted of it. He glared at the immense head of
Quox as if fascinated and there was fear in the
old King's eyes as he watched his enemy's
For the dragon was now moving; not abruptly, but
as if he had something to do and was about to do
it. Very deliberately he raised one claw, touched
the catch of the great jeweled locket that was
suspended around his neck, and at once it opened
Nothing much happened at first; half a dozen
hen's eggs rolled out upon the floor and then the
locket closed with a sharp click. But the effect
upon the nomes of this simple thing was
astounding. General Guph, Kaliko, Pang and his
band of executioners were all standing close to
the door that led to the vast series of
underground caverns which constituted the
dominions of the nomes, and as soon as they saw
the eggs they raised a chorus of frantic screams
and rushed through the door, slamming it in
Ruggedo's face and placing a heavy bronze bar
Ruggedo, dancing with terror and uttering
loud cries, now leaped upon the seat of his
throne to escape the eggs, which had rolled
steadily toward him. Perhaps these eggs, sent
by the wise and crafty Tititi-Hoochoo, were in
some way enchanted, for they all rolled directly
after Ruggedo and when they reached the
throne where he had taken refuge they began
rolling up the legs to the seat.
This was too much for the King to bear. His
horror of eggs was real and absolute and he made a
leap from the throne to the center of the room and
then ran to a far corner.
The eggs followed, rolling slowly but steadily
in his direction. Ruggedo threw his sceptre at
them, and then his ruby crown, and then he drew
off his heavy golden sandals and hurled these at
the advancing eggs. But the eggs dodged every
missile and continued to draw nearer. The King
stood trembling, his eyes staring in terror, until
they were but half a yard distant; then with an
agile leap he jumped clear over them and made a
rush for the passage that led to the outer
Of course the dragon was in his way, being
chained in the passage with his head in the
cavern, but when he saw the King making toward him
he crouched as low as he could and dropped his
chin to the floor, leaving a small space between
his body and the roof of the passage.
Ruggedo did not hesitate an instant. Impelled
by fear, he leaped to the dragon's nose and then
scrambled to his back, where he succeeded in
squeezing himself through the opening. After
the head was passed there was more room and
he slid along the dragon's scales to his tail and
then ran as fast as his legs would carry him to
the entrance. Not pausing here, so great was his
fright, the King dashed on down the mountain
path, but before he had gone very far he
stumbled and fell.
When he picked himself up he observed that no
one was following him, and while he recovered his
breath he happened to think of the decree of the
Jinjin--that he should be driven from his Kingdom
and made a wanderer on the face of the earth.
Well, here he was, driven from his cavern in
truth; driven by those dreadful eggs; but he would
go back and defy them; he would not submit to
losing his precious Kingdom and his tyrannical
powers, all because Tititi-Hoochoo had said he
So, although still afraid, Ruggedo nerved
himself to creep back along the path to the
entrance, and when he arrived there he saw the six
eggs lying in a row just before the arched
At first he paused a safe distance away to
consider the case, for the eggs were now
motionless. While he was wondering what could be
done, he remembered there was a magical charm
which would destroy eggs and render them harmless
to nomes. There were nine passes to be made and
six verses of incantation to be recited; but
Ruggedo knew them all. Now that he had ample time
to be exact, he carefully went through the entire
But nothing happened. The eggs did not
disappear, as he had expected; so he repeated the
charm a second time. When that also failed, he
remembered, with a moan of despair, that his magic
power had been taken away from him and in the
future he could do no more than any common mortal.
And there were the eggs, forever barring him
from the Kingdom which he had ruled so long with
absolute sway! He threw rocks at them, but could
not hit a single egg. He raved and scolded and
tore his hair and beard, and danced in helpless
passion, but that did nothing to avert the just
judgment of the Jinjin, which Ruggedo's own evil
deeds had brought upon him.
From this time on he was an outcast--a wanderer
upon the face of the earth--and he had even
forgotten to fill his pockets with gold and jewels
before he fled from his former Kingdom!
After the King had made good his escape Files said
to the dragon, in a sad voice:
"Alas! why did you not come before? Because you
were sleeping instead of conquering, the lovely
Rose Princess has become a fiddle without a bow,
while poor Shaggy sits there a cooing dove!"
"Don't worry," replied Quox. "Tititi-Hoochoo
knows his business, and I have my orders from the
Great Jinjin himself. Bring the fiddle here and
touch it lightly to my pink ribbon."
Files obeyed and at the moment of contact with
the ribbon the Nome King's charm was broken and
the Rose Princess herself stood before them as
sweet and smiling as ever.
The dove, perched on the back of the throne, had
seen and heard all this, so without being told
what to do it flew straight to the dragon and
alighted on the ribbon. Next instant Shaggy was
himself again and Quox said to him grumblingly:
"Please get off my left toe, Shaggy Man, and be
more particular where you step."
"I beg your pardon!" replied Shaggy, very
glad to resume his natural form. Then he ran
to lift the heavy diamond off Tik-Tok's chest
and to assist the Clockwork Man to his feet.
"Ma-ny thanks!" said Tik-Tok. "Where is the
wicked King who want-ed to melt me in a cru-ci-
"He has gone, and gone for good," answered
Polychrome, who had managed to squeeze into the
room beside the dragon and had witnessed the
occurrences with much interest. "But I wonder
where Betsy Bobbin and Hank can be, and if any
harm has befallen them."
"We must search the cavern until we find them,"
declared Shaggy; but when he went to the door
leading to the other caverns he found it shut and
"I've a pretty strong push in my forehead," said
Quox, "and I believe I can break down that door,
even though it's made of solid gold."
"But you are a prisoner, and the chains that
hold you are fastened in some other room, so that
we cannot release you," Files said anxiously.
"Oh, never mind that," returned the dragon. "I
have remained a prisoner only because I wished to
be one," and with this he stepped forward and
burst the stout chains as easily as if they had
But when he tried to push in the heavy metal
door, even his mighty strength failed, and after
several attempts he gave it up and squatted
himself in a corner to think of a better way.
"I'll o-pen the door," asserted Tik-Tok, and
going to the King's big gong he pounded upon it
until the noise was almost deafening.
Kaliko, in the next cavern, was wondering what
had happened to Ruggedo and if he had escaped the
eggs and outwitted the dragon. But when he heard
the sound of the gong, which had so often called
him into the King's presence, he decided that
Ruggedo had been victorious; so he took away the
bar, threw open the door and entered the royal
Great was his astonishment to find the King gone
and the enchantments removed from the Princess and
Shaggy. But the eggs were also gone and so Kaliko
advanced to the dragon, whom he knew to be
Tititi-Hoochoo's messenger, and bowed humbly
before the beast.
"What is your will?" he inquired.
"Where is Betsy?" demanded the dragon.
"Safe in my own private room," said Kaliko.
"Go and get her!" commanded Quox.
So Kaliko went to Betsy's room and gave three
raps upon the door. The little girl had been
asleep, but she heard the raps and opened the
"You may come out now," said Kaliko. "The King
has fled in disgrace and your friends are asking
So Betsy and Hank returned with the Royal
Chamberlain to the throne cavern, where she was
received with great joy by her friends. They told
her what had happened to Ruggedo and she told them
how kind Kaliko had been to her. Quox did not have
much to say until the conversation was ended, but
then he turned to Kaliko and asked:
"Do you suppose you could rule your nomes better
than Ruggedo has done?"
"Me?" stammered the Chamberlain, greatly
surprised by the question. "Well, I couldn't be a
worse King, I'm sure."
"Would the nomes obey you?" inquired the dragon.
"Of course," said Kaliko. "They like me better
than ever they did Ruggedo."
"Then hereafter you shall be the Metal Monarch,
King of the Nomes, and Tititi-Hoochoo expects you
to rule your Kingdom wisely and well," said Quox.
"Hooray!" cried Betsy; "I'm glad of that. King
Kaliko, I salute Your Majesty and wish you joy in
your gloomy old Kingdom!"
"We all wish him joy," said Polychrome; and then
the others made haste to congratulate the new
"Will you release my dear brother?" asked
"The Ugly One? Very willingly," replied Kaliko.
"I begged Ruggedo long ago to send him away, but
he would not do so. I also offered to help your
brother to escape, but he would not go."
"He's so conscientious!" said Shaggy, highly
pleased. "All of our family have noble natures.
But is my dear brother well?" he added anxiously.
"He eats and sleeps very steadily," replied the
"I hope he doesn't work too hard," said Shaggy.
"He doesn't work at all. In fact, there is
nothing he can do in these dominions as well as
our nomes, whose numbers are so great that it
worries us to keep them all busy. So your brother
has only to amuse himself."
"Why, it's more like visiting, than being a
prisoner," asserted Betsy.
"Not exactly," returned Kaliko. "A prisoner
cannot go where or when he pleases, and is not
his own master."
"Where is my brother now?" inquired Shaggy.
"In the Metal Forest."
"Where is that?"
"The Metal Forest is in the Great Domed Cavern,
the largest in all our dominions," replied Kaliko.
"It is almost like being out of doors, it is so
big, and Ruggedo made the wonderful forest to
amuse himself, as well as to tire out his hard-
working nomes. All the trees are gold and silver
and the ground is strewn with precious stones, so
it is a sort of treasury."
"Let us go there at once and rescue my dear
brother," pleaded Shaggy earnestly.
"I don't believe I can find the way," said he.
"Ruggedo made three secret passages to the Metal
Forest, but he changes the location of these
passages every week, so that no one can get to the
Metal Forest without his permission. However, if
we look sharp, we may be able to discover one of
these secret ways."
"That reminds me to ask what has become of Queen
Ann and the Officers of Oogaboo," said Files.
"I'm sure I can't say," replied Kaliko.
"Do you suppose Ruggedo destroyed them?"
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